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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 14:45 GMT
Whodunnit mystery in Christie's garden
The gardens at Greenway
The gardens at Greenway overlook the River Dart
The gardens at Agatha Christie's Devon home are at the centre of their very own mystery.

The National Trust has uncovered evidence suggesting the gardens at Greenway on the River Dart were designed by celebrated landscape designer Humphry Repton.

Research is now underway to confirm the possible link.

The potential connection emerged when the Trust, which was given the gardens by the Torquay-born author's family, found a landscape painting at the site.

Agatha Christie
Dame Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie was born in Torquay in 1890, and died in 1976
She often used places in south Devon as settings for her stories
She wrote The Mousetrap, the longest continuously running play in theatrical history
Her work has been translated into more languages than Shakespeare

Trust historian Katie Fretwell investigated the find and early indications suggested the painting was by Repton.

At the same time trust staff working on restoring the gardens, recognised the tell-tale signs of Repton's handiwork.

The gardens are laid out in a typically Reptonian style with his trademark transition from a terrace near the house, through a serpentine park to a distant view.

"We know that the first gardens here were laid out possibly using prisoners from the Spanish Armada," said Robyn Brown, the trust's property manager at Greenway.

"That was when it was a court but the gardens here now originated when the court became Greenway in the 1790s.

"Certainly, the gardens have this very Reptonian feeling, and our historian, Katie Fretwell, is now investigating it."

Other commissions

The landscape designer worked in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, when the current Greenway gardens were created.

He is best known for his work at Woburn Abbey, Bloomsbury Square, Tatton Park, Longleat, Harewood House, and Bayham Abbey.

But he worked on a multitude of other commissions at major buildings and sites across England and Wales.

But this is the first time he has been linked with Greenway.

Agatha Christie's daughter, who still lives at Greenway, gave the Trust 300 acres of gardens and farmland on the estate and about 30 acres are open to the public.


Click here to go to Devon
See also:

26 Nov 02 | Entertainment
26 Nov 01 | England
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